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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | November 1956 (UK)
A novelist aided by his future father-in-law conspires to frame himself in the murder of a stripper as part of an effort to ban capital punishment.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writer:

Douglas Morrow (story and screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dana Andrews ... Tom Garrett
Joan Fontaine ... Susan Spencer
Sidney Blackmer ... Austin Spencer
Arthur Franz ... Bob Hale
Philip Bourneuf Philip Bourneuf ... Dist. Atty. Roy Thompson
Edward Binns ... Lt. Kennedy
Shepperd Strudwick ... Jonathan Wilson
Robin Raymond ... Terry Larue
Barbara Nichols ... Dolly Moore
William F. Leicester William F. Leicester ... Charlie Miller (as William Lester)
Dan Seymour ... Greco
Rusty Lane ... Judge
Joyce Taylor ... Joan Williams
Carleton Young ... Allan Kirk
Trudy Wroe Trudy Wroe ... Hatcheck Girl
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Storyline

Investigative reporter Tom Garrett is on leave from his newspaper job to work on his second novel. As Tom is having problems writing that second book, his boss and future father-in-law, newspaper publisher Austin Spencer, suggests he write a non-fiction book on capital punishment in their state instead. Both Austin and Tom have long believed that the state district attorney, Roy Thompson, has been able to manipulate juries into rendering wrongful guilty verdicts leading to the deaths of innocent people on death row. The plan would be to plant evidence leading to a guilty verdict of an innocent person in a murder case, Tom to be that innocent person. Austin and Tom would document all that planted evidence, and make it public after the rendering of the guilty verdict to reverse that wrongful verdict and hopefully lead to discussion of the merits of abolishing capital punishment. They decide that the fewer people that know about the plan, the better, which means not telling Tom's fiancée... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What kind of man would frame himself for MURDER? See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

November 1956 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Jenseits allen Zweifels See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was made on a schedule of just twenty days. It was a box-office failure. See more »

Quotes

Tom Garrett: [to Spencer] It's a weird, crazy idea, but that's the reason it intrigues me.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in JFK (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
Sung by The Hi-Los (as The Hi-Lo's)
Music by Herschel Burke Gilbert
Lyrics by Alfred Perry
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Arranged Jackpot
9 September 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In his last film in the USA before returning to Germany where he had left to escape the Nazis in the Thirties, Fritz Lang takes up the case of capital punishment and its application, especially when the case is a circumstantial one.

Unlike the remake of Beyond A Reasonable Doubt with Jesse Metcalfe as the reporter and Michael Douglas as a corrupt District Attorney, both Sidney Blackmer as a newspaper publisher and Sheppard Strudwick as the politically ambitious DA hold each other in respect. Blackmer is not happy with Strudwick running up a string of murder convictions as a platform to be governor.

He and prospective son-in-law Dana Andrews agree to frame Andrews with a string of manufactured evidence all carefully documented with photographs to have the police arrest him for murder of a burlesque queen that the police are stumped about. It certainly works all right, but as the case is coming to verdict, Blackmer is killed in an automobile accident and the evidence burn with him. Andrews is left in quite the jackpot.

How it all works out is for you to see. Andrews is not abandoned by fiancé Joan Fontaine who is Blackmer's daughter. She does what she can and toward the end of the film her performance dominates.

Fritz Lang certainly builds the tension worthy of Alfred Hitchcock himself. One scene did have me baffled. After the police have gotten those arranged clues, Andrews makes some moves on burlesque dancer Barbara Nichols who resists his advances. I could not quite believe that one at all.

This original version is a notch or two above the Metcalfe/Douglas remake. Though it got an interesting alternative remake, this is still the one to see.


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